Why You Should Become an Organ Donor & How to Do It

Back background with a girl holding a neon red heart

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the funeral of a colleague’s daughter. She died at just 21 years of age. Just like that. At her funeral I discovered that her wish upon dying was to donate her organs.

Just stop and appreciate this for a minute. A young, beautiful girl in the prime of her life dies. Her one request to her family was that her organs be donated. Now, stop and think about your own life. I know it seems morbid, but this is a bucket list blog after all, it’s sole purpose is based on the idea of living life fully and having no regrets upon your death, but think about your own life. If you were to die tomorrow, what would you want to happen to your remains? Do you want to donate your organs? Do you want to donate your body to science? Is there a special place you want your funeral to be held?

Chasing Emma title page: Why you should become an organ donor and how to do it

For me, I’d like to donate my organs to someone else so they have a second chance at life. This has been an item on my bucket list for a really long time, probably since I was 17, and it’s actually something I crossed off my list about 2 years ago quite uneventfully. I was at the local show and saw the Donate For Life stall and signed up on the spot. It was simply, that easy, and it honestly made me wonder why I hadn’t done it earlier. The memory of this experience came crashing into me at full force while I was attending this funeral. Why is it that so few people are registered as organ donors when it was legitimately one of the easiest bucket list items to cross off? My goal in writing this post today is to share with you some of the facts of organ donation in Australia, and provide you with the steps you need to take to become an organ donor in Australia.

What do the numbers say?

A grey map of Australia with 8 pink circles stating how many people in each state and territory are registered organ donors

The number represents how many donors per million people (dpmp) from that state or territory donated in 2017. (SOURCE)

In Australia in 2017, 1,675 lives were transformed or saved by 510 deceased and 273 living organ donors. This is significant, and I was honestly blown away by the number of living organ donations, seeing as they are equivalent to half of all the deceased organ donations. Adding to this, nearly 10,000 Australians also benefited from eye and tissue donations in 2017.

Despite this, there are still 1,400 people living in Australia currently on the waiting list for an organ transplant, plus an additional 11,000 on dialysis who would benefit greatly from a kidney transplant. These are significant numbers, especially when you consider the financial, social and mental burdens of kidney dialysis.

Regardless of this, according to Donate for Life, the majority of Australian’s are willing to donate their organs when they die…they just haven’t registered yet. And not registering is a real problem, since 90% of Australian families provide consent when their loved one is a registered donor, in comparison to 59% of families who’s loved one is not registered. So you can see that you can’t just rely on your family to know what it is you want done with your remains once you are gone.

How to Become and Organ Donor

Becoming a donor is really, really easy in Australia. I cannot stress enough how easy it is. The first step is to simply visit the Donate for Life website and have a quick squiz. The reason why I am suggesting this is so you can educate yourself on the process of organ and tissue donation. You then need to proceed to the registration page here. There are a couple of ways to register: online, with a printed form, through the Australian Government Department of Human Services, or through their app. All you will need is your Medicare number.

A banner with a white background and 6 speech bubbles. It says More Australians are Saying 'Yes' to organ donation 2018 Outcomes

Now, here’s the REALLY important step: once you have registered, you MUST talk to your family about your decision. When you die, your family is asked if they are happy for you to donate your organs and tissue, and despite your registration as an organ donor, your family can say no. This is why it is SO important for you to discuss this with your family. Also, remember all of that information you just gained from the Donate for Life website? This is where that comes in handy. According to Donate for Life, while the vast majority of people think it is important to talk about this with their families, only 50% of them have had this important discussion. So please, if you do register as an organ donor, please talk about it with your family. It might sound like a scary and uncomfortable thing to do, but it is necessary, and truthfully, not that bad.

If registering as a organ donor is on your bucket list, I hope this has helped inspire you to cross this off your list, and provided you with the tools to do so. 

Since there is heaps of Donate for Life stuff in this post, I should probably say that this post isn’t sponsored in any way. It’s just an important issue and a great site.

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